ESTHER MSETEKA, Nakonde
THE Nakondeâ€“Tunduma Border Post has for a long time faced various difficulties which have hindered the effective revenue collection by authorities in both Zambia and Tanzania.
The border post collects an average of K4.6 million per day or K138 million per month, making it the second largest revenue generating border after Chirundu which collects about K220 million per month.
In an effort to resolve these challenges, officials from the two countries recently met in Nakonde to discuss and find ways of improving the operations of the border post.
Some of the problems that needed urgent attention include the porosity and illegal trade along the border and the construction of structures for the One Stop Border Post on the Tanzanian side.
Other obstacles are reduction in clearance time, curbing revenue collection leakages, counterfeit travel documents and operational challenges of Zambian truckers having difficulties on the Tanzanian side and buses from Tanzania that are not allowed on the Zambian side.
In October 2014, a meeting of permanent secretaries and high commissioners from the two countries was held in Mbeya, Tanzania, to discuss operational difficulties at Tunduma-Nakonde Border Post.
And following the 2014 meeting, about 100 delegates from Tanzania and Zambia convened in Nakonde recently to formulate a mechanism that will help the two countries harmonise their trade activities.
And during the adoption of the minutes for the Sixth Joint Meeting of Permanent Secretaries of Zambia and Tanzania held on April 27 this year, it was agreed that there is need for both countries to re-establish a buffer zone by resuming the demarcation of the border by June this year.
The meeting further resolved that the two countries should undertake sensitisation campaigns for transport operators regarding the legal provisions that govern the road transport sectors of both countries.
On the joint border operation, both countries were tasked to strengthen the existing laws and enforcement mechanisms especially on issues relating to illegal markets, money changers, counterfeiters, illicit drug dealers and car thefts.
â€œThe meeting agrees that there is need for Zambia and Tanzania to engage key ministries and quasi-government institutions responsible for finance and home affairs, drug enforcement agencies, among others, to counter the aforementioned illicit activities,â€ the delegates stated.
Officials who attended the meeting from Zambia were drawn from the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Works and Supply, Transport and Communications, and Commerce, Trade and Industry as well as of Justice.
And speaking before the adoption of minutes, Muchinga Province permanent secretary Bright Nundwe said addressing operational problems at the border post will enable both countries maximise on revenue collection and facilitate fair trade.
Mr Nundwe said resolving the border challenges will have a positive bearing on improving trade relations, and smooth movement of goods and people between the two countries.
He cited complaints such as those from Zambian truckers who he alleged were being treated unfairly as some of the issues that needed to be urgently addressed.
â€œThis meeting is very important and it is significant that it is held. We want to have fair trade between Zambia and Tanzania. There are still a lot of issues that are hanging and with the coming of this meeting, we will make resolutions.
â€œOur truckers are not being entertained on the other side and also here the Matatu [Tanzanian] buses are not allowed in Zambia. All in all, the key word is that we need fair trade and there must be sanity and harmony in the operations on both sides,â€ he said.
Mr Nundwe thanked members of the joint technical committee for their efforts and hard work in resolving the identified difficulties at the border post.
He urged the governments of Zambia and Tanzania to expedite the implementation of issues relating to the operation of the One Stop Border Post between the two countries.
â€œIt is imperative that our two governments expedite [the process of] finding solutions to the outstanding challenges. I have no doubt that the deliberations at this important gathering have given us the impetus to resolve the border challenges,â€ Mr Nundwe said.
And Tanzanian Ministry of Finance and Planning permanent secretary Servacius Likwelile hailed the warm relations that exist between the two countries and the efforts made so far in addressing operational problems being experienced at the Nakonde-Tunduma border post.
Dr Likwelile commended the Zambian government for its commitment to finding solutions to difficulties being faced at the Border Post.
He underscored the importance of the meeting to improving trade facilitation and the movement of goods and people across the border.
The Nakonde One Stop Border Post that was constructed at a cost of about K43 million, is a major link between Zambia, east Africa, eastern Europe, the Middle East and the far East.
The border post currently processes about 400 entries per day.
It is therefore, the hope of the two countries that the implementation of the resolutions made during the recent meeting in Nakonde will be given the attention it deserves for the desired results to show in overcoming operational problems at the Nakonde-Tunduma Border Post.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Nakonde